The first day of New Zealand’s test summer was an attritional one for both sides but England will be the happier of the two going into day two at Mount Maunganui.
England arrived in New Zealand looking for a fresh start under new coach Chris Silverwood and before the series began captain Joe Root spoke frequently about the team needing to bat for long periods of time.
Playing at a brand new test venue, New Zealand’s ninth, England won the toss and elected to bat on a bright sunny day at a ground located in the suburbs of Tauranga in the Bay of Plenty region of New Zealand.
New Zealand’s opening pair did find some movement early with the new Kookaburra ball on an otherwise flat pitch. Rory Burns was given a life on 10 when a caught behind appeal, turned down by umpire Bruce Oxenford as the Blackcaps elected not to use DRS, revealed a small spot on the edge of his bat before he went on to make 52.
In the first occasion for some time, England survived the first hour unscathed. Warwickshire opener Dom Sibley, on test debut, was also given a thorough examination. Despite hitting his first ball in test cricket to the boundary for four, he eventually edged to first slip playing across the line for a patient 22 and at lunch England were 61/1.
Joe Denly batted for just under four hours before making his half century, grafting against New Zealand’s accurate attack before slicing a thin edge off Tim Southee to wicketkeeper BJ Watling for 74.
Joe Root, the only member of England’s top order to not reach double figures, took 21 balls to get off the mark before edging his next delivery to second slip. He will want to make amends in the second innings.
Ben Stokes was also similarly patient, after a quiet start he grew in confidence taking 16 from one Trent Boult over and was 67 not out at the close.
While New Zealand were not able to make breakthroughs with any sort of regularity they were able to keep the lid on England’s run rate. Only once a tiring Boult returned with a new ball were England able to score with any fluency.
On a good wicket with the weather set fair, and the likes of Jos Buttler and Sam Curran to come, England will look to press on tomorrow to compile a potentially match-winning 400-plus total.
Meanwhile New Zealand will be looking to take early wickets in the morning and look to build a first innings lead through their accomplished top order.
Play on day two resumes at 2200 GMT.
Image courtesy of England Cricket via Twitter, with thanks.